You know, reading without any restrictions worked for me for awhile, but within a week or two I was longing for a little more direction. While I of course always read for pleasure and entertainment, I also read to learn, to explore, to be challenged, and this means that sometimes I stick with a book that’s not perfect for me because I’m still getting something out of it. But when trying to read solely for fun, it became impossible to force myself to keep reading a book that was driving me a bit nuts (I also became very aware of my reading pet peeves, which I’ll share at some point). So this confirmed for me that I prefer more structure in my reading: I’ve always joined so many challenges and set myself goals assuming it really would enrich my experience, so it’s nice to have that affirmation!
That being said, I also read more pre-2000 books when I had the choices all to myself (it ended up being about 50/50, with the balance tipped towards the older ones). A few months ago, I was looking at when the books I’ve read were published, and I was shocked by how many of them came from this decade! So now I want to keep that in mind, and I plan to read as many pre-2000 books as I do post-ones. This includes classics, of course, but also just books published from the 80s and 90s (when I was too young to be aware of them). Basically, I’m just trying to read the older books a new-to-me author has published first, rather than being seduced by their latest release. ;)
I also experienced a big shift in how I approach a new book: in the past, I opened a new book with the assumption that I’d be reading it to the end, and it took quite a bit for me to abandon it. Now, I open a new book and give it about ten pages to ‘prove’ itself to me; before that, I assume I’ll just be sending it back to the library. It’s rather like I’ve gone from assuming the books are innocent (and thus, the responsibility is on me, the reader, to stick with it until I’m about to scream) to assuming the books are guilty (and thus, the responsibility is on the book to get me to commit), which has made it quite easy for me to say to myself: “Hmmm…this book isn’t what I thought it would be, so let’s just pop it in the return stack.” This means that, even when I end up having complaints about a book I’ve finished, I’ve still enjoyed the reading experience itself. It’s definitely been my biggest take away from the whole thing: it turns out, I can tell within just a few pages if an author’s writing style is going to mesh with my reading one. And rather than be so attached to my mental idea of the book, which was of course wonderful since I requested it from the library, I can see that the reality isn’t working and return it before I feel invested. While this sounds simple, it’s definitely made reading more fun!
Do you prefer more structure or whim in your reading choices? And when you open a new book, do you assume you’ll finish it?